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Superintendent doesn't plan on cutting teachers and the budget

Date: 2/2/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Even though Gov. Deval Patrick's mid-year budget cuts haven't touched education, Springfield School Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram is planning for the immediate future.

Any cuts that would come from the FY10 budget would have to be "as far from the classroom as possible," Ingram told reporters Thursday after a news conference to announce the city's reaction to the governor's mid-year budget cuts.

Patrick's announced FY10 budget maintains the same funding level for education as it had in FY09. With increasing costs, though, that means school districts will have to make cuts.

Although Ingram wants to hold teachers from layoffs, he said, "Everything else is on the table." He will be looking at "economies of scale and efficiencies" to try to find savings.

He said definitively that no teacher would be laid off now, but said that due to a lack of information at the present time, he couldn't guarantee there wouldn't be layoffs of teachers once the final FY10 budget is in place.

Ingram said he couldn't speculate at this time on whether or not the new Putnam Vocational and Technical High School project would be affected.

He said that he and the School Committee would explore all cost-savings measures.

"Everything would be fair game," he added.

The superintendent said he would do everything he could to diminish potential "teacher burn-out."

He added that parents are "a critical part of the education process" and asked them to reach out to see how they could be part of their children's schools.

Ingram believes that Patrick's move to hold school funding harmless now and the level funding in the FY10 budget is "a credit to his commitment to public education and K-12 education in particular and it's consistent with President Obama's education philosophy and support for education in the economic stimulus package."

Ingram said the federal stimulus funding could affect Springfield's schools positively.

"These are tough times," he said. "It requires a lot of sensitivity on the part of everyone."